Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"The Elongated Knight Rises" In Fun And Interesting Ways On The Flash!

The Good: Decent performances, Fun special effects, A surprising amount of character depth
The Bad: Very predictable plot
The Basics: "The Elongated Knight Rises" on The Flash while Barry Allen is stuck in prison!

Every now and then, I write a review that - even as I post it - I know is not the best piece of writing. That happened last week when I was reviewing "The Trial Of The Flash" (reviewed here!). The reason for the poor review of "The Trial Of The Flash" was that I found it impossible to write about without spoiling virtually the entire piece. But now, a week later, it is easy to talk about what went horribly wrong with "The Trial Of The Flash."

"The Trial Of The Flash" telegraphed its ending from the beginning. Barry Allen had virtually no chance to win the case and he was determined not to fight the verdict against him. The episode was so predictable that well before they showed it, I bet aloud that Barry Allen would end up in his father's cell. And he did. Fallout, who has a great arc in The Flash books was given a lip-service b-plot in "The Trial Of The Flash" that did not do him justice. In last week's episode, Fallout served as a plot device that forced Barry Allen to leave his trial in order to save Central City, with only a nod to his truly sad character. But so much of the critique of "The Trial Of The Flash" hinged upon how much of the episode telegraphed the episode's end. I am certain to do a better review of "The Elongated Knight Rises," so long as it does not replicate the same problems as last week's episode.

Opening with a prison riot, seven days into his stay in Iron Heights, Barry works hard to resist the urge to help people, but eventually gives in to save the lives of the guards. At S.T.A.R. Labs, the team works to help Ralph Dibny defuse a bank robber who has taken hostages and is wired with a bomb. Dibny starts to get cocky as Barry encounters Axel Walker (The Trickster) in the yard. Barry is visited daily by Iris, who has not given up on trying to find the evidence needed to exonerate Barry. Walker is broken out by his mother, the former-villain Prank.

But Axel is not content to simply flee Central City. He challenges the Elongated Man to a fight and while Dibny has some early victories against his gadgets, he is susceptible to The Trickster's acid. While the S.T.A.R. Labs team hunts down Walker and his mother, Barry discovers he has an ally in Iron Heights. Zoey Clark and Axel Walker start transmitting a lethal game show - Wheel Of Misfortune - and when Prank calls out Dibny, he refuses to confront the pair. After a pep talk from Barry in Iron Heights, though, Dibny attempts to stop the two villains.

The idea that a week or eight days in, Barry would be going stir crazy makes perfect sense and Grant Gustin plays the growing edginess well. When Allen is visited by Joe West, Gustin manages to portray the young man with an unsettled quality that is subtle, but palpable.

On the flip side, Iris West steps up to play the team leader in a way that she has not been allowed to since the season premiere and the return of The Flash. The fourth season of The Flash missed a big opportunity to show off Iris West's leadership skills in a compelling way before bringing Barry back to the mix and quickly restoring the equilibrium. In "The Elongated Knight Rises," Iris is given the opportunity to direct the heroes at her disposal well.

"The Elongated Knight Rises" does a good job of creating motivations for all of the characters. Axel is a psychopath who idolizes his father, Zoey is jealous of how much her son loves his father to the neglect of her and Ralph Dibny, for all his ridiculousness, has a pretty healthy survival instinct. Even Big Sir, Barry's new prison ally, has a backstory and a motivation. The characters in "The Elongated Knight Rises" all have a sense of personality and realism to them.

The fourth season of The Flash might be recycling its own plots and playing with a fairly dull set of villains, but the special effects have been stepped up as Barry continues to do a number of Quicksilver-like sequences where he re-arranges adversaries during the battles.

Corinne Bohrer is wonderfully over-the-top as Prank and she steals the scenes that she shares with Devon Graye (Axel). Bohrer makes a generally ridiculous episode seem more fun than stupid or silly. The serious prison plot plays off the ridiculous villains and heroes in "The Elongated Knight Rises." And the Beebo allusion to Legends Of Tomorrow is pretty fun.

Ultimately, "The Elongated Knight Rises" manages to do what "The Trial Of The Flash" did not, which is to make the heroes feel like they are doing more than spinning their wheels heading toward the inevitable.


For other television reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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